Tzatziki is a traditionally Greek cucumber yogurt dill sauce that makes a refreshing dip or a topper for gyros and pita sandwiches, but can also be used as a dip for fresh vegetables or pita bread. Though fresh dill is the more common ingredient, tzatziki can also be made with fresh mint. The sauce can be served chilled or at room temperature, but be sure to plan ahead to account for required refrigeration time. Plan ahead to drain the yogurt overnight.
Though some tzatziki recipes call for blending the cucumber and yogurt for a smooth texture, this recipe leaves the cucumber finely chopped for a chunkier and more hearty texture.
- 1-16 ounce container plain low-fat yogurt*
- ½ English (seedless) cucumber, not peeled, seeded and finely chopped (plus a few thin slices for garnish)
- 1½ teaspoons salt, separated
- 1 to 2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint or dill (plus additional sprigs for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- If using regular plain yogurt (not Greek-style yogurt), spoon yogurt into a sieve lined with cheesecloth or coffee filter set over bowl; cover and refrigerate overnight. This process will drain the excess moisture from the yogurt and produce a thicker, creamier texture. Be sure to see Cook's Note below for recommended yogurt substitution.
- After the yogurt has been strained overnight, transfer drained yogurt to a medium bowl and discard liquid.
- Meanwhile, in a colander set over a bowl, toss chopped cucumber with 1 teaspoon salt.
- Allow salted cucumber to drain for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.
- Once ready, wrap chopped cucumber in a kitchen towel in batches and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Pat dry with paper towels, then add to bowl with yogurt.
- With flat side of chef's knife, mash garlic to a paste with remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
- Add garlic, chopped mint or dill, olive oil, wine vinegar, and pepper to yogurt and cucumbers and stir to combine.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 2 or up to 4 hours before serving.
- Serve tzatziki sauce chilled or at room temperature, topped with cucumber slices and mint sprigs.
*Cook's Note: For a thicker, creamier texture, you can substitute your regular plain yogurt for low-fat plain Greek-style yogurt, which will help you to avoid the first two steps of straining the yogurt and add to the protein content.
Per tablespoon (using regular plain yogurt): about 17 calories, 1 gram protein, 1 gram carbohydrate, 1 gram total fat (0 gram saturated), 1 mg cholesterol, 182 mg sodium.
Recipe Source: The All New Good Housekeeping Cookbook edited by Susan Westmoreland (Hearst Books)
Reprinted with permission.